ON SEPTEMBER 9, Corey and Joey Ficken stepped on stage at the Doug Fir and closed the doors on the Swords and seven years of their lives. Three months later, the brothers are debuting Bauman, Ficken, and Sparks, a pared-down, "guitar rock" foursome. Over a series of lengthy email interviews, I chatted with Corey about the downfall of music, what exactly happened to the Swords, and what it's like creating music with your younger brother. The January 6 show will take place at Holocene and is a benefit for Ficken's injured friend Geoff Cornel.
MERCURY: After seven years with the Swords, how's it feel to debut a new band?
COREY FICKEN: I try not to think about it. No matter what anybody says, you can't predict what people are gonna latch onto. We're doing this for us. It's in our blood, our roots music. Rock 'n' roll!
On that note, what finally happened to the Swords?
It was the pressure to make money, the promises, drugs, drugs, drugs, shitty tours, crushed expectations, bandmates going AWOL, mounting debt, and the dawning of the most gutless, boring, derivative musical decade ever.
Why the decision to switch to a smaller lineup?
The Swords were solid, the same core lineup for seven years. Bauman, Ficken, and Sparks are solid, the same core lineup ad infinity. What it comes down to is if you can't do it with four people or on your own—your voice, a guitar, a drum machine, a saxophone, whatever, then give up. Throw in the sweat towel.
How do you describe Bauman, Ficken, and Sparks' sound?
It's the late '80s/early '90s with 20/20 hindsight. This is a rebound relationship with an old sweetheart.
Where does Bauman, Ficken, and Sparks fit in the national scene?
Scene? It's a shitty, under-informed, over-accredited, unaccountable, dilettantish music press. It's artistic prostitution and a lack of historical knowledge or historical viewpoint. Scene? I don't think that term applies anymore.
Where do you think you and your bro got this love for music?
Joey and I both found the path in our early teens. For disaffected politically minded punker/art types, music made the world a brighter, safer place. It was a club for outsiders.
What is it like being in a band with your brother?
You mean, what's it like playing with one of the best drummers in rock 'n' roll? That's a no-brainer. Our kid had a muzzle on for seven years. It's off now.
What pushes you guys to do this?
Kelly Bauman, Joey, and myself got into the music thing in the mid-'80s/early '90s. The climate was very different; no one had any expectations. There was no money in our sub-culture's music. You did it out of love. You committed yourself to a lifetime of poverty, shitty jobs, and parental disapproval.
How exactly did this particular lineup come together?
Bauman and I have been musical friends for 15 years. We came up together; we've been in bands together, supported each other through the darkest of hours. So when the time came to get the party started, once again, a no-brainer.
Any last words before the big debut?
I can't stress this enough, we are doing this for the FUN of it. Nothing more.